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Tahoe's Dining Scene: Old Favs, Glam Slams, Lake Views, Casino Gems

Tahoe's Dining Scene: Old Favs, Glam Slams, Lake Views, Casino Gems

On your trips to Lake Tahoe, dining out is a big part of the fun. You can go for a gorgeous lake view, return to your favorite Old Tahoe eatery, or dress up for a glam slam at a French-inspired café or one of the casinos. Here is our take on the best restaurants at Lake Tahoe for you to enjoy.

Top of the Heap

Tahoe’s only 4-diamond restaurant, Ciera at Montbleu Resort Casino presents hundreds of wines to go with their succulent steak- and chop-focused menu. At Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, the warm interior of stone, wood, and leather is the backdrop for French-influenced, California cuisine masterminded by chef/restaurateur Traci Des Jardins (famous for Jardinière in San Francisco). Think about duck meatballs, wine-braised short ribs, thin-crust pizza from the wood-fired oven.


Call days, even weeks, ahead for fine dining at the intimate, romantic Cafe Fiore, where just seven candlelit tables and a heated patio are in high demand. Wine Spectator loves the wine list, and the eggplant crepes were written up in Gourmet Magazine. On the Northern Italian menu are the signature bistecca ala Veneziana and linguine fra diavolo, and a must­­­­––the homemade white chocolate ice cream.


In Squaw Valley, Plumpjack Café’s chef, Rick Edge, puts together farm-to-table ingredients for winemaker dinners, pairing California cult wines with inventive dishes of venison, seafood, and organic veggies. The all-day bar menu and Sunday brunches are wildly popular. Co-owned by California’s lieutenant governor and frequented by the beautiful people from the Bay Area, the place is casual, yet with an upscale atmosphere.

Old Tahoe Eateries

Of the three Red Hut Cafes at South Lake Tahoe, the 1959 original waffle house is the fav. Settle onto a red vinyl barstool to choose from a zillion waffles, from pecan to fresh berry. Daily specials are big platters of chicken-fried steak, ribs, spaghetti, and more comfort food.


In Tahoe City at Rosie’s Café, ski bums, locals and tourists have for more than 30 years been digging into burgers and sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, Mexican specialties, and more rib-sticking comfort food. Old Tahoe memorabilia hangs all around the woody, mountain-style restaurant.


At the bottom of Ski Run Boulevard at the Blue Angel Café near Heavenly Ski Resort, daily specials might be Taco Tuesday, Wine Therapy Thursday or Friday Fish and Chips. Sit at a picnic table on the lawn or inside by the river-rock fireplace for a smoked salmon, lemon, and goat cheese sandwich, chili sweet potato fries, beef bourguignonne and gumbo.


It’s hard to miss the shiny, Art Deco-style 1948 dining car in Truckee, where Jax at the Tracks holds forth with a gigantic menu of classic diner food, from meatloaf to turkey with stuffing, veggie Parmesan, blue crab cakes, and popcorn shrimp. Locals crowd in for the Morning Addiction, a breakfast extravaganza with layers of hash browns, avocado, bacon and eggs.

Blue Water Views

Perched at a marina where beautiful boats glide in and out, diners hang out for hours at Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge on the West Shore, noshing on crab and lobster cakes, Kobe burgers, and Niman Ranch steaks, topped off by hula pie. Evenings are cozy by the giant river-rock fireplace, and the party heats up in the bar; if you can’t manage to get out to the parking lot, check into one of the lodge rooms upstairs.


Among lake view restaurants on the North Shore, Big Water Grille (below Diamond Peak Ski Resort) specializes in Pacific fusion cuisine and hearty fare such as braised short ribs, pulled pork, and blue cheese burgers with caramelized onions. At the Lone Eagle Grill at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Casino and Spa, lounge in an Adirondack chair on the glass-enclosed lakeside patio or by the massive stone fireplaces. Wine Spectator lauds the wine list here.


Named for the iconic, sleek wooden Riva runabouts (you can order one for $200,000), Riva Grill in South Lake Tahoe is all glistening dark wood inside and glorious marina and lake views from the deck. Chef Robert Phillips creates seafood and pasta dishes, plus crab chili relleno and pomegranate-glazed ribs. Don’t miss a “Wet Woody” cocktail.


At Chambers Landing Bar and Grill on West Shore, the oldest bar on the lake, you’ll run into vacation home owners who come here year after year for the view from the end of the pier, for the BBQ and grilled sandwiches, and for the Chambers Punch, which packs a . . . well, you know. Just up the road, Gar Woods Grill & Pier in Carnelian Bay offers free valet boat parking for your vintage cruiser and killer views from the deck. On the menu are crab cakes, fish tacos, and sliders, and grilled rib eyes, ahi, and scampi.


—By Karen Misuraca
Travel and culture writer Karen Misuraca is the author of Fun With the Family Northern California, and founder of DeepCultureTravel.com.



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